Camp Report: Charleston Wins Pitching Duel

Everyone is starting to round into shape down in Florida, including the Yankee prospects. With time winding down in spring training and the regular season approaching, the prospects are beginning to look more and more sharp. We'll look at the day's performance in this Camp Report.

Although the offense hasn't exactly been explosive for the past few games, the Charleston spring training squad managed to pull out a victory on Tuesday. A pitching duel it certainly was, and for this time of the year, you had to also know that it would be a battle of the bullpens. But, it would be a battle that Charleston would go on to win. The offense has been slow and coming after a hot start earlier on this spring. But, the most important thing is that it appears that the starting pitching is looking exceptionally strong heading into the regular season.

Taking the ball for Charleston was one of the multiple aces of the staff, Phil Hughes. In his two previous outings, the righthander has looked solid, and that didn't change in his most recent appearance either. As is the normal routine at any level, the pitch counts increase as the spring goes on. That was the scenario for Hughes on Tuesday. He may not have totally pitched up to his expectations but the outing was another solid one nonetheless. Hughes went 3 1/3 innings, surrendering 2 runs on 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 6 as well. "I pitched okay," Hughes told "I gave up the runs in the third, but I reached my pitch count in the fourth. It wasn't that I got in trouble. I struck out a bunch, which was nice. I had a good fastball going. My curveball and changeup were good too. Overall, I felt good though." So, the strikeouts obviously show you that he had his good stuff going and the runs that crossed the plate were only a product of working out the spring training kinks.

Like it was state earlier, the bullpen played a major part in this Charleston victory. Coming in relief of Phil Hughes were Jose Tadeo, Mike Martinez and Mike Knox. As it can easily be told by the score, all three of them tossed shutout innings to help preserve the Charleston lead. And, it is easy to say that they could be riding these strong performances toward spots in the bullpen.

As for the offensive side of things, there really wasn't a lot of it. That can easily be displayed simply by the final score of the ballgame, 3-2. But, again, the biggest offensive contributor was Irwil Rojas. For the second game in a row, the contact hitting catcher racked up two hits in the game. In doing so, any questions that he would be the starting catcher for this team in the regular season may be silenced. Also picking up a single in this game was Jon Poterson, who recently returned to the lineup. He continues to have a productive spring training as well. Picking up singles as well were Ben Jones and Justin Christian. Both of those two hitters continue with fantastic spring training displays on offense. Christian, for that matter, is trying to earn himself more and more playing time because, at this point, he looks to be a possible odd man out come time for opening day.

News and Notes. As of Tuesday, there are no real news and notes for the Charleston squad. But, there is plenty of news about some of the higher level teams. The most surprising piece of the day is the release of Mark Phillips. The Yankees believed he would be able to have a comeback season but things just didn't pan out for the once highly touted lefthander. Perhaps he will catch on with another organization given the promise he still may have.

In other news, Eric Duncan got a chance to play with the AAA squad for the day on Tuesday and he came through big. The lefty swinger lined a scorching double down the right field line and he later came on to score a run as well. Although this is not where Duncan will be playing on opening day, it is nice thing to keep in the back of your mind once the time comes where he does move to AAA. But, he will likely return to AA Trenton camp on Wednesday.

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